Saturday, November 25, 2017

Varied vintage wine flight complements beef brisket dinner

Varied vintage wine flight complements beef brisket dinner

For an impromptu post Thanksgiving dinner, we hosted Dr Dan and Linda over for beef brisket and a broad flight of accompanying wines. This was our first get-together since our Napa Sonoma Wine Experience. One of the highlights of our Napa trip was the barrel tasting in the caves at the Del Dotto estate in Rutherford. Our cases of wine purchased during that trip are shipping this week so we featured a couple of Del Dotto Napa Bordeaux varietals to commemorate that tasting, and to make room for the Del Dotto due to arrive this week.

We enjoyed a broad flight of five wines that maintained a consistent theme of bold, bright expressive tangy spice fruits accented by cedar and eucalyptus notes that perfectly matched the tangy barbecue dinner, and pecan and pumpkin pie desserts. The progressive flight built in intensity, then complexity, then closing on the consistent harmonious theme.

We started the evening with Domaine Serene Evensted Reserve with artisan cheeses and transitioning to opening with the smoked beef brisket. As we got into the medley of Original, Sweet, and Spicy barbecue sauces, we drank a big  concentrated spicy Clarendon Hills Bakers Gully Shiraz. We following with a spicy Del Dotto Cabernet Franc, a perfect transition from the barbecue to rest of the accompaniments and transition to the dessert course. Next we served a Del Dotto "David", signature flagship and namesake wine of the producer. Finally, we closed out with an aged vintage Silver Oak to match the signature oak profile with the pronounced spicy cedar notes of the David.

Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir 2005

This was the initial vintage of this wine that we discovered eventually culminating in this being one of our favorite Pinots that we keep in the cellar for suitable pairing and enjoyable casual sipping.

Dark garnet opaque color, medium bodied, black berry, black raspberry and black cherry fruits with notes of violet, dusty rose, hints of earthy leather, spice, clove and whisper of white pepper, medium to tart acidity, moderate tannins on the medium finish. Still holding at a dozen years but slight bricking on the edges indicates this is at the end of just beyond its prime drinking window and will continue to decline here forward.

RM 91 points.

Clarendon Hills Baker's Gully Shiraz 2003

Its hard to believe its been a half dozen years since we last opened this label when I wrote this tasting note that still holds true. While this is past its prime and starting to show its age, it is still drinking very well; "Dark garnet inky color, full bodied, concentrated thick chewy, almost coating the tongue - forward black and blue fruits, ripe black raspberry turns to a tone of spice, hint of cedar and kirsch with a slight metallic/mineral undertone - ends with a full, moderate soft chewy tannin finish."

RM 91

Del Dotto Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 2002

Del Dotto were one of the first producers to bottle Cabernet Franc as a standalone bottling. This is a great wine to keep on hand for special pairing with food highlighting the distinctive characteristics of this varietal.

Like the other wines tasted, this one too at fifteen year is aging very nicely and still holding well within its drinking window. Consistent with earlier tasting notes, dark garnet color, full bodied, bright cinnamon spice, raspberry, hint of cedar and mocha on a big, long silky smooth tannin finish.

RM 92

 Del Dotto "The David" Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend 2002

On initial opening, this was closed and muted, lackluster in all respects, then after about a half hour it seem to explode with a bright expressive nose and burst of fruit and spice flavors. The  tones of eucalyptus and cedar almost made one's eyes water they were so pronounced from the glass.

Consistent with my tasting notes five years ago, now in its fifteenth year, this was still vibrant and lively but will likely not improve further with age. Dark garnet colored, full bodied and bold, complex and concentrated, the Rutherford fruit shows through as the expressive full forward black berry and black cherry fruits predominating with accents of cassis, spice box and Mayacamas cedar / eucalyptus tones. That Del Dotto craftsmanship of layered oak and hints of mocha are apparent on a long soft, plush, layered fine tannin finish.

RM 93 points.

Robert Parker gave this 94 points in his 02/05 review of this wine when he wrote: "The flagship wine, the 2002 David, is a 400-case blend of 59% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, and 19% Cabernet Franc. The wine has tremendous density and a gorgeously perfumed nose of cedar, spice box, black cherries, and cassis. Opaquely colored, deeply flavored, and rich, with chocolatey ,currant flavors, a savory texture, and a persistent palate, it will drink well for 7-8 years."

Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1989

As the third label from this legendary producer, following the flagship Bonny's Vineyard that was discontinued in the early nineties, then the Napa label, the Alexander Valley bottling shows amazing longevity and staying power. Few people hold this wine for three decades but we enjoy it new and aged.

This bottle actually showed and tasted better than my earlier review a couple years ago. Like the other wines, this one showed the same consistent style and profile as with my earlier tasting notes, when I wrote, "At twenty six years, this was showing its age in the rust brickish color showing on the edges. Muted upon opening, the expressive signature layers of 'silver' oak emerged and amplified over the course of the evening. The slightly astringent acidic black berry fruit was punctuated by a layer of leather, earthy tobacco leaf and black tea before giving way to the layer of oak that permeated the finish. This was a special bottle that showed its heritage and terroir well."

RM 90 points.

Notable too is that Dr Dan brought two exquisite bottles for our dinner - Joseph Phelps Backus 2010 and a Sea Smoke Sea Spray 2012, anticipating a grilled steak dinner, which was the original plan. We cellared these and we'll enjoy them together at a future tasting dinner.